Earlier on March 16, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the Second Kanchpur Bridge on the Shitalakkhya River
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to inaugurate the second Meghna Bridge and the second Gumti Bridge on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway on Saturday.
The premier will open the bridges through videoconference from her official Ganabhaban residence.
Earlier on March 16, the prime minister inaugurated the Second Kanchpur Bridge on the Shitalakkhya River.
Abu Saleh Md Nuruzzaman, project director of the Kanchpur, Meghna and Gumti bridge construction projects, said the two new additions, along with the newly-built Kanchpur bridge that is already in operation, are expected to bring relief to travelers on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway, especially during the upcoming Eid holidays.
Nuruzzaman said Japanese contractors Obayshi Corporation, Shimizu Corporation, JFE Engineer Corporation, and IHI Infra Systems Company Limited started construction of the 2nd Kanchpur bridge, 2nd Meghna and 2nd Meghna-Gumti bridges on the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway in January, 2016.
The total estimated cost of the three bridges was Tk8,487 crore, of which the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) provided Tk6,430 crore.
The final cost of the project may be over Tk1,000 crore less than what was estimated, Nuruzzaman added.
The project director said the Japanese firms were scheduled to complete the projects by June 2019, as per the contract. The government had extended the deadline by six months to December 2019 after construction was halted for four months due to the Holey Artisan Bakery attack in July 2016.
“However, the construction of the bridges has been completed around seven months before the extended deadline,” he added.
Nuruzzaman also said work on the around 400-metre new Kanchpur bridge, at a cost of Tk950 crore, was completed in December 2017.
“The new Kanchpur bridge is two metres wider than the old one. The authority has already started restoration work on the old bridge,” he further said.
He said the construction work of the new 930-metre Meghna and 1,410-metre Gumti bridges was completed at a cost of Tk1,750 crore and Tk1,950 crore, respectively.
Nuruzzaman also said the overpass on the east end of Kanchpur Bridge will be opened to public on May 31, to ease travel during the Eid holidays.
Md Tazul Islam, general secretary of Comilla Bus Owners’ Association, said: “Traffic often crawls to a halt at the approaches to the bridges. The situation worsens ahead of Eid and during weekends, as more vehicles ply the roads. Hopefully, the traffic situation will improve with the opening of these new bridges.”